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Leftfield101: Recovery - More or Less
By: Leftfield Training


In the search for results, the tendency for most is to try and do more, more, more. But in many cases, our focus should be on improving our recovery instead. So, if you are putting in the work but are not getting results, something is missing and that is most likely due to your recovery, or lack of it.

And really it does not take too much of a mental stretch to see this - afterall, how often do you feel as if you could train harder immediately after a workout?

But it is the training that make you stronger right?

Not. Really.

It is during your recovery that the body, if allowed to, will adapt. This a process known as supercompensation.


In this basic theory of any athletic training, here we can see that from an initial baseline, your training serves to decrease your level of fitness. Immediately after your training stops, you enter a recovery period. Here your fitness returns to its initial level before your body, in anticipation of the demands being placed on it at the next training session, will adapt and your level of fitness will increase - surpassing your original level, and becoming your new baseline.

A simple, well documented, quite obvious process that is all too often ignored.

Our training is simply a stimulus for change and this stimulus will create results only if we recover enough between workouts. But not too much. If we do not allow sufficient time then our performance and health suffer. If we wait too long, or our training is intermittent, then we miss this supercompensation window, and simply repeat a cycle of training and recovery. Going nowhere.

The better and more rapidly you recover, the more quickly your body adapts, and the sooner you can perform another high-intensity activity. That means better gains and faster improvements. So the more efficiently we can recover, the sooner we can spur further progress. In fact this is the sole benefit provided by anabolic steroids. They simply aid recovery to allow for a higher quantity of training. Cheating? Absolutely, but only in that they allow you to do more training.

The science of recovery is a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon with wide-ranging effects and for those at the extreme end of physical performance looking to eke out that extra one percent, finding this balance is an extremely vital and delicate equation.

For the rest of us, there are a number of ways in which we can maximise our recovery that not only help us to get the most from our training, but provide a host of further benefits for our health and well-being.

A good recovery plan:

Increases your energy,
Boosts your immune system,
Improves your hormone profile,
Decreases inflammation,
Improves tissue quality.

Obviously, good nutrition and adequate hydration are both essential to recovery and these will be looked at separately in the Nutrition series of Leftfield 101, suffice to say that you should focus first on food quality, then food quantity. Consuming whole foods along with herbs and spices, as well as supplementing with fish oil, will help to moderate inflammation and fuel you for further training.

Throughout the Recovery series we will also look at some of the more major components in turn but here we will deal only with the broader picture - active or passive. Both are necessary and balancing the more stressful with relaxing and energizing activities is the key.

There is a big difference between rest—doing nothing at all—and active rest. Although in most cases it's best to never take a complete day off, a combination of both active and passive recovery will maximize your results from training, while reducing your potential for injury.

Active Recovery

We already know how important movement is, so it will be no surprise that it plays an important role in our recovery.

When sedentary our bodys systems are stagnant like a still pool of water, but any light activity is enough to increase circulation. This then helps to drive nutrients into the muscles as well as flushing out the chemical byproducts that result from intense training. This will provide some light relief to any DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) you may be experiencing.

All you need to do is move enough to increase circulation, and purposely enough to activate the nervous system and work the muscles. Ideally you also want it to be fun, as our mental stressors have as much influence on our recovery as do our physical ones.

Swimming - a great option as it provides relief for the joints also.
Insert favourite sport here - basketball, cycling, frisbee golf, jelly wrestling - please yaself.
Martial arts
A freestyle workout - just go through the motions.
A skills-based workout - concentrate on handstands or an area that's troubling you.
Mobility work
Postural exercises
FMS correctives
Playing with your dog
Any movement based activity whatsoever - just keep it relaxed. This also aids our aerobic development and as all recovery processes are aerobic in nature, further development of your aerobic capabilities will always speed the recovery and adaptation process.
Active recovery can also have an obvious influence on other goals. The Precision Nutrition recommendation for fat loss is 5-7 hours of exercise per week.

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Added: 02-07-2015